The architect of the legal strategy to protect the Northern spotted owl and its habitat in the Pacific Northwest is the new president of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. On March 7, Victor Sher, 39, became the sixth president of the public-interest environmental law firm that represents several hundred non-profit clients, including the Sierra Club. As the head of the fund's Pacific Northwest office, Sher brought lawsuits against both the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to protect ancient forests frequented by the spotted owl. Court rulings from these suits were instrumental in forcing the agencies to slash timber harvesting on public lands. "The courts," says Sher, "are still the only level playing field for many of our most pressing environmental problems." Sher says he hopes to expand his organization's services to disadvantaged communities. "The least powerful among us have suffered the most environmental harm," he says. "We have the chance today to marry civil rights with environmental rights." For more information, contact SCLDF at 180 Montgomery Street, Suite 1400, San Francisco, CA 94104 (415/627-6700).